By Kay Quinn
St. Louis (KSDK) - It's something we learn at a young age: chest pain usually means there's something wrong with your heart.
But it's not the only possibility.
On this week's 8 Ways to Prevent Cancer segment, we give a closer look at what chest pain could be telling you.
"Heart disease is very prevalent and it's very important to diagnose and treat heart disease very early," said Dr. Stephen Edmundowicz with the Siteman Cancer Center.
But with that said, some chest pain could be related to excess stomach acid.
"A simple test we do is we have our patients take an antacid or acid lowering medicine. The likelihood is it's acid reflux and not your heart but that's not always the case so clearly that's the kind of symptoms if I was having chest discomfort that's what I'd want to talk with my doctor about," said Dr. Edmundowicz.
But chest pain is not necessarily a sign of esophageal cancer. Symptoms of that disease are different.
"Usually the patients have had long-standing heartburn they're having difficulty swallowing food and when we notice they're having difficulty with swallowing, food is sticking in the esophagus that's a warning sign that the lumen or the opening of the esophagus is becoming narrowed by tumor and if that's the case it certainly needs attention," said Dr. Edmundowicz.